The F-Word bloggers’ position on transphobia and cissexism
As a collective, The F-Word blogging team have decided to put together a statement clarifying this blog’s position on transphobia and related discrimination against trans people. Trans women in particular have historically been, and continue to be, marginalised and discriminated against within feminism, both as a result of widespread ignorance and discriminatory attitudes towards trans people in society as a whole, and due to the specific dismissal of trans rights and identities by some* feminist theorists and movement leaders. We believe this is unacceptable: transphobia has no place in feminism.
While our comments policy makes it clear that transphobic comments will not be published, we recognise that this has been insufficient to ensuring trans people feel as welcome as cis people to participate in The F-Word. We have therefore drawn up a few guidelines and explanations to help all the members of this community – including ourselves – ensure that The F-Word does not alienate or exclude trans people. We do not view this document as a one-stop solution to transphobia and exclusion on this site, rather as a starting point; we envisage that by having this framework in place, we will be able to better deal with and challenge transphobic attitudes and so make The F-Word a safer place for trans people who wish to read, comment on and contribute to the site.
We would appreciate it if readers could take the time to look through the statement, and have included links for further reading if you are interested. All feedback is, as ever, very much welcome.
*We are not endorsing the intro here, but the link includes some examples of Germaine Greer’s statements about trans people in The Whole Woman.
Transphobia is identified by performer, trans activist and biologist Julia Serano as “an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against people whose gendered identities, appearances or behaviours deviate from societal norms.”
Cissexism is a related but distinct form of prejudice holding that trans people’s identified genders are less authentic than those of cisgendered people (i.e. those who are not transgender and “who have only ever experienced their subconscious and physical sexes as being aligned”). “Common examples include purposeful misuse of pronouns or insisting that trans persons use a different restroom. The justification for this denial is generally founded on the assumption that the trans person’s gender is not authentic because it does not correlate with the sex they were assigned at birth.”- Julia Serano.
Cis privilege refers to the privilege experienced by cis people, and the ways that being cis affects their lives, and how being cis makes their lives substantially different to that of trans people. For more information on how this works in practice, the Cis Privilege Check List is a good place to start. Cis people refers to those individuals who do not define themselves as trans. We use this term as it comes from a trans-centric analysis of transphobia developed by trans activists. Please see the further reading section below for more information.
Trans-misogyny occurs at the intersection between transphobia and misogyny, specifically targeting trans women and their expressions of femaleness and femininity. See here for some examples.
The F-Word aims to provide an online space free of discrimination against trans people. Trans and cis individuals are equally welcome to access and participate in this site, and have the same right to expect that their presence in this community be respected. The F-Word firmly believes that transphobia has no place in feminism, and transphobia of any kind will not be tolerated on this site.
We reject as transphobic:
- Any assertion that trans women are not “real” women, or that trans men are not “real” men, and any assertions that we consider, to the best of our judgement, to stem from this belief.
- Any assertion that trans women are men, or that trans men are women, and any assertions that we consider, to the best of our judgement, to stem from this belief.
- Any assertion that trans women should be excluded from women-only spaces, or from accessing services that are designed for women.
- Any assertion that trans people are mentally ill. This is also disablist.
- Any assertion that trans people have no place in feminism.
Transphobic comments, or those which engage in trans-misogyny, as defined above, will not be published. However, the content of these comments may be shared between bloggers or contributors and then addressed in articles (without naming the commenter), or directly in an e-mail to the commenter, in an effort to tackle transphobic attitudes and behaviour.
In order to ensure that trans people feel as welcome to participate in The F-Word as cis people, we respectfully ask that cis readers and contributors refrain from:
- Using comment threads related to trans issues to ask basic questions about trans individuals’ experiences and identities, unless you are specifically invited to do so. Cis bloggers are not expected to explain what it means to be cis, or to educate readers about the “cis experience” every time they post; trans bloggers are entitled to the same kind of respect. We have included some links below in order that you can research these issues yourself.
- Using comment threads related to transgender issues to air your views on the term cis, unless specifically invited to do so, or if the article itself discusses the term. We use the term simply to designate those who are not trans, in a manner which does not Other trans people.
- Using comment threads related to trans issues to air your theories on gender and trans identity, unless specifically invited to do so. For example, it would be inappropriate to bring up the nature/nurture debate as it relates to gender under a post highlighting violence against trans women.
We take all complaints of transphobia seriously, and these will be dealt with in line with our Charter and comments policy. Please do contact us if you feel that any member of this community, commenter or contributor, is not acting in the spirit of this statement. We accept that we ourselves may not get things right all the time, and welcome constructive criticism and feedback from readers.
Some further reading:
The F Word is not responsible for externally-linked content, so please direct any comments or queries about the following links directly to the blogs/writers in question.
Trans Respect/Etiquette/Support 101, by Micah Bazant
Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano.
Transphobic Words and Deeds, by Lisa Harney.
How Not to be Defensive When Accused of Transphobia (A Guide For Cis People), by Lisa Harney (via Fuck Yeah, Gender Studies! blog).
Transphobic Tropes series, by Queen Emily and Drakyn:
Transphobic Tropes #1 – Really a Man/Woman
Transphobic Tropes #2 – Patriarchal Privilege
Transphobic Tropes #3 – Reifying Gender
Transphobic Tropes #4 – My theories are more important than your experience
Transphobic Tropes #5 – The “man in a dress”/stealthy deceiver double bind
Transphobic Tropes #6 – Transition is Mutilation
Transphobic Tropes #7 – Socialisation as a Child
Whipping Girl FAQ on cissexual, cisgender, and cis privilege, by Julia Serano.
Cis Privilege Checklist, by Cedar.
A Point About Cis, by Lisa
What Transmisogyny Looks Like, by nodesignation
What Trans Means to Me, by Holly of Feministe.
Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism, by Julia Serano.